Justin Ontong recalled to limited-overs squads
Justin Ontong, the Cape Cobras allrounder, has been included in South Africa's squads for the one-day and Twenty20 international series in New Zealand in February. Graeme Smith has been left out of the Twenty20 side, and another Cobras batsman Richard Levi will open with Hashim Amla in the format. JP Duminy was chosen ahead of Ashwell Prince in the Test squad, which also includes Robin Peterson in place of Paul Harris.
Marchant de Lange, who took seven wickets in an innings on Test debut against Sri Lanka, was selected for his first tour and was named in the Test and T20 squads. Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn were rested for the Twenty20 series.
Ontong hasn't been part of a South Africa squad since the 2009 World Twenty20 in England, where he did not play a game. The last time he played for the country was in March 2009, a T20 match against Australia. However, Ontong averaged 72 in this season's 1-Day Cup, South Africa's List A competition, and 76 in the SuperSport Series, the first-class tournament. He played some crucial knocks in the 1-Day Cup, with his three half-centuries all coming at close to a run a ball, and he helped take the Cobras over the line in the final with an unbeaten 37 off 28 balls.
"Ontong fully deserves this latest call-up," Andrew Hudson, Cricket South Africa's selection convener, said. "He has shown outstanding domestic form this season and I believe he has developed into a more mature cricketer. His finishing ability was a key factor in the Cobras' success in winning the 1-Day Cup.
"He is the complete limited-overs package, being a fine batsman who will strengthen our fielding disciplines and also give us another bowling option.
"We have decided to try out some exciting new options in the T20 squad such as Levi, Ontong and de Lange. There are only 11 matches left in this format before we travel to Sri Lanka for the ICC World Twenty20 and this is really the last chance to explore the talent we have at our disposal. Having AB de Villiers fit again for T20 action also gives us a lot more flexibility and better balance."
South Africa will play three Twenty20s in New Zealand, five against Zimbabwe at home and three more in England before the World Twenty20. An ICC trophy is the one thing noticeable by its absence in the South African cabinet and one of coach Gary Kirsten's foremost priorities is to change that.
Smith's exclusion from the squad suggests he is not in the plans for the World Twenty20. Instead, it looks like Levi, who made an impression at last year's Champions League T20 and was the third highest run-scorer in the 2010-11 Pro20 competition, will be groomed. Rusty Theron, who is renowned for his death bowling, has also been given another chance.
Albie Morkel keeps his place in the limited-overs squad. He was not included in the original squad for the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but was called up as a replacement for Dean Elgar ahead of the first ODI. He was only required to score quick runs down the order and did not take any wickets in the series.
Rory Kleinveldt and Elgar, who were both selected for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, were not considered because of injury. Kleinveldt did not play in the series and sustained a quadricep injury after the first match in Paarl. Elgar hurt his knee in the field in a SuperSport Series match and was forced to withdraw from the squad before the series started.
Twenty20 squad: AB de Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla (vc), Johan Botha, Marchant de Lange, JP Duminy, Colin Ingram, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Rusty Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.